Mel Pearson has spent the last couple of weeks emphasizing Michigan’s need to get more offensive output from its defensemen. In Saturday night’s win over then-No. 14 Notre Dame, Pearson saw what he’d been pushing come to fruition.
Eleven weeks ago, that kind of fluky goal to start a game was the Wolverines’ undoing on the road at Western Michigan. But Saturday night, Michigan (9-11-2, 4-7-1-0) came back to complete just its second sweep of the season, beating the Fighting Irish, 3-1.
The movement of the puck spread the defense open, leaving Nick Pastujov open down low at the base of the net. Recognizing this, Michael sent the puck to his brother, who swiftly turned, pulled back and lifted the puck over the shoulder of Morris, converting the man-advantage in 18 seconds. Pinpoint execution for a goal that would give Michigan a decisive lead in an eventual 3-0 win over Notre Dame.
And though the Wolverines’ power play didn’t find the same success on its other opportunity of the night, it didn’t matter. The defense and penalty kill unit stayed steady, holding the Fighting Irish empty handed from their three chances to help Michigan (8-11-2 overall, 3-7-1 Big Ten) notch a 3-0 victory.
High expectations were set for Hayhurst from the start, when the coaching staff pitched him on the top line with senior forwards Jake Slaker and Will Lockwood, the returning two highest scorers from the year before. He was given top-line minutes, but the top-line offense failed to click, and he was a large reason why.
For the second half of the season, Michigan coach Mel Pearson’s main focus for his team is increased attention to detail. So far, that’s entailed getting bodies in front of the net to take the goaltender’s eyes away and readying for rebound chances.